New dating app aims to protect from sex offenders, criminals

They say chivalry’s dead, security is better. Let family friends know you’re going on a first date.

The founder of Gatsby says his app bans sex offenders and criminals from signing up.

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Chapter 1: An online meetup ends up in murder

It’s a family’s grief.

“Why? What did he ever do to you,” says a family member of 25-year old Dontae Lampkins.

And unbearable pain.

“She’s just not going to be able to see what great of a guy he really is,” says the brother of 27-year-old Adam Hilarie.

Felt in neighborhoods from Polk County to Hillsborough.

Dontae Lampkins and Adam Hilarie were two men killed in just the past year in the Bay Area after meeting up with people they met on online dating sites.

“What you think you’re getting may not be what you’re getting at all,” says Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a new report, 15 percent of adults find themselves using dating sites or dating apps.

Police say it’s that high number that has them also seeing a higher number of crimes happening as a result of an online meetup.

A brand-new survey finds Florida is one of the most dangerous places for online hookups.

SafeWise and HighspeedInternet.com say of 56 cities surveyed, Miami (46), Jacksonville (39), Orlando (53) and Tampa (36) all ranked among the most dangerous. 

“We’ve seen several cases in recent history where somebody just wasn't careful enough,” said Tampa Police Department spokesman Steve Hegarty.

Chapter 2: An app with a difference

It’s also why Joe Penora has created a new dating app called Gatsby.

“We are a dating app available that bans sex offenders and criminals from signing up,” says Penora.

He says while some other sites may do sex offenders checks, his app also scans users for criminal records.

“Sex assaults on dating apps have risen 500 percent in four years,” says Penora.

The company launched in April and says a high number of their users are right here in Florida.

“We’re a few months old and have already gotten a great response from some people saying going we are too far from banning criminals,” says Penora.

But Penora says that’s fine.

“We figured people want to be safe online,” says Penora.

Chapter 3: Even with checks, there are no guarantees

And while there is a rigorous background check, there are no guarantees, so Penora says you still have to be safe once you decide to meet up.

“Drive yourself to the first date. They say chivalry’s dead, security is better. Let family friends know you’re going on a first date. Let them know where you are.”

Most online dating sites include these safety tips below:

  • Get to know the other person before meeting them offline.
  • Always meet in public.
  • Stay in a public place.
  • Tell a friend.
  • Stay sober.
  • Drive yourself to and from the first meeting.
  • Keep personal items with you at all times.
  • Long distance meetings.

Gatsby will have some added measures by the end of the month that includes two source verification.

We did reach out to some company’s like Tinder and Plenty of Fish to see if background checks or sex offender checks are conducted, we are still waiting to hear back.

Match.com does do sex offender checks according to a news report. In 2011, It states Match.com will begin cross-referencing members against the National Sex Offender Registry after a lawsuit filed last week in California, in which a woman claims she was raped by a convicted offender she met on the dating website.

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